Family Violence Initiative



Family Violence Interventions

Program name:

Nimkii-Naabkawagon Family Crisis Shelter


Batchewana First Nation, Chief and Council


Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario

Target Group:

Women and children

Contact Name:

Brenda Combs






Program Overview

The shelter doors opened in June 2000 and the program has been ongoing since. The only change has been the increase in the Department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada Family Violence Prevention Program dollars in 2007. This brought the shelter to full capacity and resulted in an increase in the number of programs available and the hiring of five new employees. A future goal is for men's programming to be initiated. An holistic approach would provide healing for all the family, and yet men are often left out of the healing process – the shelter wants to address this gap.

Program Description
Goals & Objectives:

To provide a safe haven for women and children leaving abusive homes that offers short term counselling and referrals to resources in the community.

Traditional/Indigenous ways:

The shelter makes use of traditional approaches to healing such as talking circles, holding sacred fires, conducting sweat lodges and Medicine Wheel teachings. None of the traditional activities are mandatory as all beliefs are welcomed and respected at the shelter.

Components of program:

The shelter givers referrals to needed resources and helps fund different programs, e.g. Elders Day. Pamphlets are available that describe the services offered., There is a new youth centre and programming – the shelter is involved in teaching youth how not to be abused, nor to be abusers. The facility seeks to address the intergenerational aspect of family violence. The shelter also helps provide funds and resources for the community to educate about violence and abuse and how unacceptable these are in family and community life.

Services/How they work:

Services are provided on site at the facility.


Funding is received from: Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation; and the Department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada.

Relationships and Stakeholders
Involvement of Target Groups:

The shelter offers weekly client meetings to discuss the issues they face. For example, clients may discuss the rules in the shelter, and how to make it work better for them. Shelter residents also determine their own menus, and which chores they will do. Shelter staff work with residents' schedules so that residents become very involved in the communal living aspects of the shelter, despite other appointments such as Alcoholics Anonymous, or medical appointments, or jobs or school schedules.


The Algoma Council of Domestic Violence; the Partner Assault Response Program; the Ontario Provincial Police; Nishnwabe-Aski Nation Police; and the Children's Aid Council.

Other relationships:

The Executive Director of the program also sits on the Algoma Domestic Violence Court Council.

Details of Program Evaluation

No evaluation done.

Highlights of Evaluation Findings:


Program Outcomes
Measures of Success:

Success is measured by the ability of women clients to move on after they've gone through the program, can manage their lives in a different way and have learned to say no to violence. The shelter staff work to avoid compromising integrity – i.e. staff have learned how to work more effectively with Chief and Council; and provide value to women and children so they can succeed and re-build their lives. Success is also living up to the shelter's commitments to the community, and living up to its mandate to build collaborations by working together with the community.


The shelter staff and Executive Director have developed collaboration with the Batchewana First Nation, including the community members, Chief and Council, and all the departments under them; the shelter collaborates with other First Nations for consistent and efficient programming for women, men and children.


Obtaining funding. The shelter receives less money to provide services than its provincial counterparts. It's been a significant learning experience to develop and maintain effective working relationships with its authorities, the Chief and Council, even in times of election changes. Keeping up with all of the required documentation for funding agreements has also been challenging for the program.

Things to Know to Replicate
Replication Advice:

The program is considered replicable. Shelter Executive Directors must be educationally qualified; they must be able to work with the Department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, Chief and Councils, and the community overall. They must know how family violence dynamics work, and how family dynamics should be working. Strong policies and procedures that are reviewed annually are needed; so are goals and guidelines that everyone in the shelter knows about, reviewed periodically; shelter administration needs to make sure there are good job descriptions, that everyone understands their jobs, all staff know the rules of the Band regarding the shelter, and how to run the financial side of shelter administration. Shelter Executive Directors need to know how to enforce good policies, how to make them clear and understandable to those who are hired.


Qualified personnel to both run the shelter and to work with the clients are essential to the success of the facility and programs offered within it. Sufficient funding must be procured to ensure quality of staffing and programming.